Doctors advise staying indoors, taking Vitamin D supplements
Srinagar: The risk of heart attack is twice as much in winter than in any other season in Kashmir, doctors say and advise vulnerable people to avoid venturing outside when the mercury dips.
“Cold weather actually triggers a heart attack because it makes the blood vessels constrict, which allows less blood through these vessels. So, people are prone to heart attacks,” said Dr Nisar Tramboo, senior cardiologist at SKIMS Soura.
He said that vulnerable people like those suffering from hypertension, diabetes and chest ailments should avoid morning walks and trips outside during winter.
“Hard work and exertions among high-risk groups can be a factor in increased risk of heart attacks. So, such activities should be avoided,” Dr Tramboo said.
According to him, cigarette smokers should also avoid exposure to cold wave and extreme weather conditions.
“People who indulge in regular smoking and drinking are also at high risk in the cold. They should have their cardiac levels checked in winter. Heart attacks and acute stress-related events are common during winters, especially in the early morning hours,” he said.
Another well-known cardiologist, Dr Irfan Bhat who works at SMHS Hospital, said that the hospital sees increased number of myocardial infarction cases and other heart ailments during winters.
“SMHS Hospital receives eight to eleven such patients per day, while in summers this number is two to three,” Dr Bhat said.
Dr Nissar-ul-Hassan, a senior physician at SMHS Hospital, said, “CVDs including deep venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, aortic dissection and rupture, stroke, intracerebral haemorrhage, hypertension, heart failure, angina pectoris, myocardial infarction, sudden cardiac death, ventricular arrhythmia and atrial fibrillation are high in winter as compared to summer season.”
He said that there are a number of studies conducted all around the globe that have also revealed that the highest incidence of CVDs occurs during the colder months, and this contributes to greater number of deaths due to CVDs in winter.
Dr Nisar said flu in winter heightens the risk of these cases. “Flu causes acute and severe inflammation that builds up fat deposits in the inner walls of the blood vessels. These fat deposits dislodge and get stuck in heart or brain, where they block the blood flow,” he said, adding that lack of sunlight during winter leaves people with Vitamin D deficiency, which is associated with increased risk of dying from heart attack or stroke.
“While we can’t change the weather, we can take precautions to protect ourselves from health risks of cold weather. Keep yourself warm. If you move out, dress in layers, wear a hat, gloves, and scarf. Avoid going out in chill for a walk and do your workout inside. Get your annual flu shot and don’t forget to take your Vitamin D,” he suggested.